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Thursday, May 8, 2008

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HGSE: Sequel To Hollow Ground Now Available
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 2 comments

Blackwight has announced the release of HGSE, a shareware arcade-style game that emphasizes observation and tactical skills. The game is a sequel to Hollow Ground, from the Swedish game maker Aescapia. The original game has been preserved in an entirely new and "highly extensible game engine." Three new boss monsters and 13 new maps have been added for this release, and Blackwight promises to add more content in the future.

Here are a few key features of the game:

• Flexible graphics allow a range from dark grunge to science fantasy. 
• Two players can play at once using joysticks or the keyboard. When parents and kids are playing, the gore can be deactivated. 
• Tactical opportunities are common and not always obvious. HGSE does not underestimate the player. 
• Quick and responsive control. 
• Four mercenaries, sixteen weapons, eighteen temporary power-ups and fourteen permanent power-ups allow for creativity in perfecting the mercenary. The player must traverse 40 of the 78 maps chosen in a semi-random fashion to reach an ultimate goal. 
• Players can contribute new maps using a separate editor which we plan to release free of charge in the summer of '08. 
• A Live Update feature provides an ongoing stream of new material and player contributed maps, as well as minor repairs, should they be needed.
HGSE requires Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher and at least a 400 Mhz G3 or Intel processor. The demo version, offering 16 of the current 78 maps, is available at the website below. The full game is priced at $19 with registered users of the original Hollow Ground able to purchase a registration code for $4.99.


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IMG Reviews Biofilm
6:37 AM | Marcus Albers | Comment on this story

Inside Mac Games has posted a review of the microscopic wargame, Biofilm from Battery Acid Games. Here's a clip from the review:

One of the premises of the game I found particularly interesting is the role of resources. Unlike many strategy games where gathering resources is really just a way of getting enough funds to build your army, in Biofilm the "troops" will dwindle and die when they are away from food for too long. This adds a new complication when you are sending troops out on a sortie or commando mission, and raises the excitement level in a way that other RTS-crafters would be wise to consider. There's something quite gripping about watching a small group of starving troops, led by a single "Glower," making their way across an unlit expanse, hoping to find a new nutrient patch and not to run into hostiles.
Follow the link below to read the full review.

IMG Review: Biofilm
Battery Acid Games

iPod Yahtzee Reviewed
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

The iPod Observer has posted a new review article examining Yahtzee, one of many titles available for Apple's iPod device. The game brings the classic dice rolling of Hasbro's family game to the iPod with the addition of unlockable levels, multiple game modes, and multiplayer action. iPod Observer gave the game a Recommend rating.

The iPod is a personal device: You listen to your music on it, watch your movies and videos, you get podcasts and audiobook that you like loaded up on it. It's a small device with a small screen that is meant for private viewing.

Yahtzee, on the other hand, was created to be played with at least one other person, someone you can kid around with. Yahtzee solo just ain't a lot of fun and playing against the computer is no good either. You need another person to play with.

That's not to say Yahtzee for the iPod is not a well executed game, in fact I think its a game ideally suited for the iPod. The screen is simple and easy to see, the controls are equally simple and an absolute joy to use, and this version of Yahtzee is faithful to the original, almost to a fault.

I also believe that in situations where you and several folks are cramped into a small space for 30 minutes or more, on a road trip for instance, you'd be hard pressed to find a more suitable and fun game to play. You can't hear the dice shaking in the cup, however, unless everyone has earphones of some sort. But then, that might not be such a bad thing because it's likely everyone will be talking anyway.
Head over to the site below to read the rest of the review.

iPod Observer: Yahtzee Review

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StarCraft II: Q&A Round 37
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

The 37th Q&A focusing on answers to fan questions about StarCraft II, Blizzard Entertainment's long awaited sequel to the original StarCraft, is now available. SC II will introduce new multiplayer action and a continuation of the storyline.

2. Could you tell us more details about the Reapers' mines mechanics? Are they visible for the enemy? Can they be defused, or should simply be destroyed? Do they deal damage to friendly units and to each other? If so, does the explosion of one mine cause the detonation of its neighbors, or they just die, without dealing damage?
Yes, the Reapers mines will be visible, though depending on the placement, they can be covered by enemy units moving over them. The mines have very few hit points and can be killed easily. Nonetheless, it is important to note that they are very small, making it more difficult to micromanage those attacks when there are several mines.

Mines damage both enemy and friendly units/buildings, so making sure you dont blow up your own Reapers is quite important ;) Mines will not detonate other mines, have a 30 second cooldown, and they currently do 30 damage plus 30 additional damage to armored units (including buildings). Furthermore, the mine is now an upgradeable ability of the Reaper.

4. Do Anti-Gravitated Banelings keep their suicidal abilities and act as Scourge?
Yes, when Banelings die while being lifted by Anti-Gravity, their explosion will hit air units in its area of effect. This could undoubtedly open up some unique and unexpected strategies in team games.

Check out the rest of the Q&A at the link below.

Starcraft Forums: SC 2 Q&A Batch 37
StarCraft Forums: Ask Your SC 2 Questions Here
StarCraft Forums: Q&A Archive
Blizzard Entertainment
StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty
Buy StarCraft II: Wings Of Liberty

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The Decline Of Game Difficulty
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 15 comments

A recent article in The Escapist online gaming magazine offers an examination of the declining difficulty in mainstream games. The feature explores the reasons why developers have reduced the difficulty level, the overall impact of the change, and the creation of a niche market for those who still want a punishing challenge.

While few go as far as LEGO Star Wars developer Traveller's Tales did, we saw a related attitude rise among games that were traditionally for a limited demographic: an attitude I tend to characterize as "entryist." The math was simple: The cost of making games has risen, but publishers have reached the upper limit of what they can reasonably charge the consumer. This means developers have to work out a way to sell the game to more people while not compromising their core audience in order to stay profitable. Traveller's Tales achieved this by making LEGO Star Wars easier while maintaining enough depth to satisfy experienced players. Newcomers could have a more basic experience and be lured in, while seasoned gamers could go off and do their own thing.

The results of the entryist movement have been mixed. Compare what happens when you say "Knights of the Old Republic," which practically beat itself, and "Deus Ex: Invisible War," which was nigh impossible, in a room full of gamers. Fine-tuning difficulty remains problematic for developers. While it may have been satisfactory for System Shock 2 to sell 250,000 units in 1999, sales numbers like that in today's development environment would be disastrous. So while Bioshock plays similarly to SS2, it's far more forgiving if you're not an experienced first-person gamer. Ken Levine was famously quoted as telling the team he wanted his grandmother to be able to complete it on "Easy."

Which is all well and good, but there's a problem with entryism: No one appreciates the top end, since everyone follows the path of least resistance. If "Grandma Mode" is available, hardcore gamers are more likely to waltz through the game than attempt a harder difficulty. There's no point to putting yourself through a tougher experience if the end result is the same. Fundamentally, the entryist movement has failed - the bottom level has been lowered, but the top level, the level at which games were originally designed to be played, has been weakened in turn. In short, Mass Effect is not Planescape: Torment.
To read the full article follow the link provided below.

The Escapist: Hard Times

Mac Games News for Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A History Of Game Physics6:00 AM
Return To Dark Castle Reviewed6:00 AM
Supercow Available For Mac6:00 AM
Uplink Goes Universal6:00 AM
View all of the Mac games news for Wednesday, May 7, 2008 on one page

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